Every once in a while you come across a couple that are the perfect match. They seem ideally suited for each other, the whole greater than the sum of their parts. As Jerry McGuire would say, they “complete” one another. Female winemaker Kristin Belair and Honig Winery have one of those special symbiotic relationships.
The phenomenon of women in wine is not as recent as you might think, nor is it limited to a few famous wine makers such as Heidi Barrett. While most casual wine drinkers might not have heard of Janet Myers, they most surely will be familiar with Napa Valley producer Franciscan Estates. Franciscan Estates started back in 1972 but now boasts 240 acres under vine in the prime Oakville District of Napa Valley. Franciscan Estates began its rise to prominence in the mid ’70’s by making wine in small lots and then blending them together to get the desired result. Franciscan adopted the Bordeaux style of wine making 1985 with the launch of its flagship wine, Magnifcat.. Magnificat is a rich powerful full bodied wine using the traditional Bordeaux varieties of grape. Janet Myer’s joined the team at Franciscan in 2003 but her first job was working harvest at Robert Mondavi when she was still a student at UC Davis. Is it just me or am I seeing a lot of great wine makers coming out of UC Davis? Janet has travelled to Italy and Australia to work with leading vinters to improve her skills and has been director of wine at Franciscan since 2005, the same vintage that I tasted recently at a Women & Wine dinner.
The 2005 Magnificat is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. I put my nose deep in the glass and took a big “sniffy sniff” and was met with the quintessential Napa nose; Cassis, Vanilla and cedary oak. The palate was plummy with black cherry and Anise and was a superb match for the New York strip steak grilled medium rare. The alcohol is 14.5% which may be a little higher than the wines of Bordeaux, but I did not find the wine to be overly alcoholic or hot. Production was a little over 24,000 cases so consumer’s shouldn’t have any trouble finding this vintage or more recent vintages. At $50 a bottle this wine is more than I would spend on a daily drinker, but quite reasonable as a monthly treat.